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In Their Own Words

July 04, 1743

Brutal Indian Justice Recorded

Eighteenth-century Indian justice could be quite different from that of white colonists, as evidenced by this graphic example recorded by William Stephens in his journal:

“Most of my time this day was taken up with the Indian Traders, who required good looking after, many of them being of a loose disposition, whereof a flagrant Instance lately happened, by one of them debauching an Indian Wife, which is the greatest Offence can be given … whenever any of them are taken in Adultry [sic], the punishmnt. they inflict is bastinading each of the Offenders by a Number of Neighbors with long Sticks, till near (and sometimes quite) dead, and then cutting Off the mans Ears. And such was now the case, the Delinquent escaping barely with his life, but cropt off both Ears… .”

Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1741-1743 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), p.223.